I’ve recently been living with the story of Philip and the Ethiopian from Acts 8:26-39.
Philip had been experiencing a move of God in Samaria and then suddenly, out of the blue, God sent him into the desert! At the same time an Ethiopian official was travelling through the desert – unknown to them both God was engineering a powerful encounter.
The Ethiopian was an important man with an influential job. On the surface he had everything going for him yet we are told he was a eunuch. It’s difficult for us to imagine the emotional and relational scars that this must have left him with.
He had gone to ‘church’ in Jerusalem, looking to find God, but had left without any answers. It is here in the desert where Philip finds him grappling with a passage from the book of Isaiah about Jesus.
“Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked. “How can I,”, “unless someone explains it to me?” Philip explained the gospel and suddenly it all made sense! The Ethiopian had a revelation of Jesus, was baptised and left overflowing with joy. His physical circumstances had not changed one bit but his life had now changed forever.
Perhaps we can relate to this. Sometimes life can feel tough. Often people don’t see our inner battles or turmoil. Perhaps we have experienced what seemed like success, only to now feel in more of a desert place. But this is where Jesus loves to meet us.
The theme throughout the book of Isaiah is that even in the midst of difficult and desert-like circumstances only God can sustain and revive us. Sometimes our situations do not change but God’s presence is like finding a stream in the desert.
Jesus still encounters the needy. He still uses people like us. He still changes lives and an encounter with him changes everything!